LONDON -- Their paths have crossed a couple of times here, at the intersection of what could only be called Legendary Boulevard and Victory Lane.
Brian Kilrea, the winningest coach in major junior hockey history.
Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history.
They have run into each other each of the last two days, renewing a friendship that began in Ottawa in the 1950s.
Interestingly, it was not hockey that brought them together, but baseball.
Kilrea was a catcher, for the most part. Maybe a little third base depending on who showed up.
His cousins, Gord and Bruce Hamilton, brought Bowman, then in his early 20s and working for the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, out to play for the team.
"That's how we met," said Kilrea. "I think he was an infielder."
Thus began a friendship that's coming up on 50 years in length.
"Scotty came down (Tuesday) and we had a nice talk. They were trying to get me to hurry up and get to that (CHL awards) banquet. I said, 'Yeah, the banquet can wait. You don't have an opportunity to talk to the greatest coach in the history of the game much. When you have the chance to talk to Scotty Bowman ... it wasn't always about hockey, it was about a lot of things. Fun, the game and past games ... friends that we knew.'
"All he's done is everything," added Kilrea. "Coaching, managing, scouting, player personnel. He is the best."
Bowman said he lived in a rooming house off Holmwood Ave., a place that also was home to some of the Ottawa Rough Riders of the day.
He played baseball for a couple of years in Ottawa with Kilrea and the Hamiltons.
"He just really wants to win," said Bowman.
He's enjoying taking in the Memorial Cup and watching his long-time friend.
What's been the secret to Kilrea's success?
"He doesn't have an air about him. He is going to do things his own way. He's not a politician. With Brian, it's what you see is what you get. Guys play hard for him," said Bowman.
Bowman said Kilrea, like himself, focuses more on the big picture and doesn't get caught up in technical stuff.
"Other guys do the Xs and Os. I had Barry Smith, who was a good man, Dave Lewis. (Kilrea) leaves all that other fluff to the other guys."
Kilrea and Bowman.
It doesn't get any better than that.
HEAR AND THERE: It is not yet a feature on most rinks, but 67's F Jakub Petruzalek probably wishes it was. That would be a huge hole into which to crawl after conking your superstar goalie in the neck with a puck at practice ... The Memorial Cup tournament leads the world in corrections. Just about every goal is corrected at some point during the game. Then, yesterday, this release landed on the media's desk: "Please note that the tie-breaker formula as outlined in the Information Guide is incorrect." Maybe they should get Liquid Paper as a sponsor ... I would try and explain the tie-breaking system at the Memorial Cup, but "Get degree from MIT" is pretty far down on my "To Do" list.
REVELATIONS: Bowman, a huge golf fan, said he's heard Tom Lehman, the captain of the next U.S. Ryder Cup team, wants to talk to him about his craft. Bowman said Lehman, who's from Minnesota, knows his hockey ... Kelowna F Tyler Mosienko is a low-handicap golfer. He probably gets a few tips around the dinner table at his billets. He's at the home of LPGA player Gail Graham, who lives in Kelowna.
SPECULATIONS: The new definition of quiet: The 67's at yesterday's practice while G Danny Battochio lay motionless on the ice ... 67's F Chris Hulit took a good slash on the left arm Tuesday night against Rimouski. Kilrea was asked yesterday how Hulit was doing. "I saw him eating with both arms, so he should (play)," said Kilrea ... Somebody just tried to explain the tie-breaking formula to me. You take the number of cigars Kilrea has smoked this week, add it to the number of times Doris Labonte's ears have turned red and divide it by the number of times Dale Hunter has brought up making hockey a safe game.
JUST WONDERING: Sidney Crosby gets cross-checked in the first period and it's a double-minor. Guess all that talk about him getting abused had the desired effect ... After Kelowna killed that off, Crosby got chased for hacking Mosienko and whined about it ... Maybe he's tired from all the hockey he's played this spring, but Kelowna D Shea Weber wasn't the dominating force he was expected to be here ... Rimouski D Mario Scalzo, Jr., meanwhile, is a treat to watch. It's too bad there isn't more room in the NHL for small, dynamic defencemen. His short-handed goal to make it 3-1 last night was a beauty ... His assist on Rimouski's fourth goal tied him for the tournament scoring lead.
LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: A nice touch: The Rockets and the Oceanic shaking hands at the end of the game ... Scalzo's doing it at both ends of the ice. He just stopped Kelowna from tying it by sweeping the puck out of the crease with six minutes to go ... You know the tie-breaking formula is complicated when they are passing out special computer software in the press box to figure it out.
NAPKIN NOTES: Kilrea isn't anything but helpful. Asked yesterday to comment on what D Brad Staubitz has meant to his club, Kilrea replied: "To measure what he's done for our team: Priceless. My friends at MasterCard will like that."... The fan wearing a blue Quebec Nordiques sweater at the game last night had to be feeling blue. Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Nords being sold and moved to Colorado ... The list of Ottawa forwards who showed up against Rimouski is a short one. Among the vets, Kilrea singled out Brad Bonello and Julian Talbot for their contributions. "If I was smart, I'd hold them out of practice (yesterday)," said Kilrea, "but I don't want to separate the good players from bad at this time of year."
PARTING SHOT: They're pissing and moaning here because the Knights' Hunter wasn't named the CHL's coach of the year. Huh? The guy had an all-star team. The Knights could have had Rachel Hunter behind the bench and did what they did. It's more of an injustice, frankly, that Kilrea wasn't a finalist, doing what he did with his group.